Filing from the Front Lines of Poverty

1040 Yes, I know I’m late filing my taxes this year.  I usually file  the minute the W-2 hits the mailbox, but this year is different.  I took tax accounting in college, so the forms don’t scare me and I’m pretty swift to get any money Uncle Sam might be keeping from me.  But this year is different.

 You see, I was afraid, due to almost a years worth of unemployment  “paychecks” that we’d owe money and we don’t have it.  Also, due to where I live, there is a very good chance, due to both local and national data bank breaches, that someone has already misappropriated at least one of our SSN’s, filed for and gotten any monies we might be owed.  I just can’t face that yet either.

I did start the return tonight though and slogged through most of it.  Yes, most of it’s the same as last years as far as the personal information they want and I have all the W-2’s, bank statements, insurance premium bills, and all the other papers together.  The only thing that seems to get harder each year is what to do about my son.

He has a part time job, goes to college full time, lives at home and turned 21 in 2013.  All that makes a difference.  Seems he made $17.49 too much at his job, though it does nothing to cover his school bills, let alone his car, health insurance etc. so he’ll have to file his own taxes, though I can still claim him as a dependent.  Yipee!

Then, a screen I’d never seen before came up, and I’ve been doing taxes with and without the aid of computers for 20+ years now.  Here is a young man, who lives at home, works, goes to school and is a good kid BUT, now that he’s 21, the IRS and Federal government want to know one thing before I can claim him as a dependent.  They want to know if he is now, or ever has been convicted of a felony.  Why?  Because, not only can you not get most types of financial aid for college if you are a felon, you can’t take a deduction for school costs either.  And we’re not talking about him getting a tax break on school costs on his return either.  We’re talking about me, on my tax return.  How crazy is that?

Mind you, I’m against the whole, “we don’t care if you’ve done your time, we are not going to help you better yourself,” attitude towards “felons” that seems to pervade the poorer folks lives.  It’s not only stupid, it’s insane to make it even harder for the, mostly, non-violent, usually minor drug offense types of “felons” that are most common in the lower socioeconomic brackets, to actually get an education that will enable them to become employable.  Not that anyone will hire someone who has to check the “felon box” on an application.  And now, we’re saying to those young folks parents, usually caught in the same trap, that “we won’t help you help your kid out either.”

Seriously, it’s not like there are a ton of companies hiring young people these days anyway.  I personally know of 4 bright young people who’ve done “everything right”, never been busted for so much as littering and they can’t find a decent job. If they’ve dropped out of high school and not gone to college or tech school, forget it.  If they were busted with some pot and did time or even probation, then they are truly screwed. This stupid clause even makes it harder for them to get a GED because you usually have to pay for those too and this prevents even the parents from getting that tax credit!

Who are these monsters that expect poverty stricken parents to successfully bring up their children with less and less and less help?  Who are the cretins who decided that, not only will we build mandatory, draconian punishments for minor offenses into the law, but we’ll make sure that,not only are they punished ad infinitum, but so are their parents?

It pains me to say it, but we do know who they are.  They are the people we elected or put on a bench and they are the people we have to hold accountable for flushing the lives of a whole generation down the drain.  Some people say that it doesn’t help to vote, to which I cry bullshite!  I lived in a city of half a million people where an election came down to ONE vote.  So do yourself and your kids or grandkids a favor and get yourself registered and VOTE!

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